Looking to make a good first impression on his first foreign visit as a U.S. presidential candidate, Mitt Romney first made questionable remarks about the London Olympics. He made his remarks on an interview for NBC TV after arriving in London.
Romney said that there were indications that the people of Britain were not entirely behind the London games and that there were "disconcerting" reports about preparations and readiness. He questioned whether the city and country were fully ready to stage the Olympics. He made those remarks on Wednesday.
Whether Romney was unable to predict his remarks would not go over well, or he simply let his words run away with him, he isn't saying, but in response there was a mini-storm of condemnation for him in the U.K.. The Republican's words also motivated British Prime Minister David Cameron to retort with a statement clearly intended to rebuke Romney.
"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere," Cameron said. Romney was CEO of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002.
Romney on Olympics: "always a few small things"
When Romney and his wife Ann flew to London Wednesday for their 3-day stay, he found himself faced with damage control and tried to put his ill-timed words behind him. In a meeting with Cameron on Thursday, he was decidedly more positive about the Games and following their talk, he spoke with reporters outside the British P.M.'s residence at 10 Downing Street, praising the London games and speaking to mistakes being an inevitable part of the process.
"My experience as an Olympic organizer is that there always a few very small things that end up going not quite right in the first day or so," he said. "Those get ironed out and then when the games themselves begin and the athletes take over all the mistakes that organizing committee - and I made a few - all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out which capture the spirit of the games."
Romney's first foray into foreign affairs was further marred by a statement to the U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph by a Romney aide prior to Romney's arrival “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the newspaper quoted a Romney adviser. “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Romney will be at the opening of the Olympic Games Friday night and over the weekend will leave the U.K. and briefly visit Israel and Poland before returning home.